September 14, 2006
McGeorge designed and implemented an innovative, hands-on training program in January and February to help school Chilean prosecutors and public defenders in the arts of trial advocacy, mediation, and negotiation. In part because of our highly-ranked Trial Advocacy program, the Cultural Affairs Office at the American Embassy in Santiago chose McGeorge to carry out the training. The school then signed a contract with the U.S. State Department to bring eight Chilean prosecutors and 11 public defenders to Sacramento for training.
“From our end, the results were great,” says Professor Jay Leach, director of McGeorge’s Center for Legal Advocacy and Dispute Resolution. “The Chileans were diligent and receptive, and their reactions were uniformly positive.”
Chile’s legal system is moving from an inquisitional, judicial-tribunal system to an American-style system of adversarial trial. Its lawyers were in need of training in four areas: direct examination, cross-examination, impeachment of witnesses, and closing argument. “One of our concerns,” says Leach, “was whether we would teach at the appropriate level of their experience, which varied from individual to individual. Another concern was whether we would take proper account of the similarities and differences between our two systems.”
The seven-day sessions included lectures from Professors Joseph Taylor and Fred Galves on trial advocacy and from Professors Gregory Weber and Ed Villmoare on alternative dispute resolution. Mock trial segments and a complete trial that ended each session occupied 80 percent of the time, with two Chilean lawyers arguing for each side. Simultaneous translators were present, the sessions were videotaped, and McGeorge faculty observed the sessions and made comments and suggestions.
“I accompanied defenders from my office and was very impressed by the professors at McGeorge,” says Rodrigo Quintana, the Defensor Nacional for Chile’s Defensoria Penal Publica.
“The Chilean legal system is going through an amazing transformation and it is a great honor for McGeorge professors to be asked to share our knowledge with Chilean attorneys,” says Professor Galves, who did human rights work in Chile in 1985 under the auspices of the Harvard Human Rights Program and Amnesty International.